Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) took to streaming service Twitch on Wednesday to encourage viewers to register and vote in this year’s November election—and immediately became the night’s top streamer. A joint effort between several prominent Twitch personalities and fellow representative Ilhan Omar (MN-5), the stream garnered over 450,000 concurrent viewers at its peak and was one of Twitter’s most trending topics before it began.
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and company played Among Us, a last-man-standing game that rewards deception and accusation, fosters a fierce and oft-unfiltered competition and is one of the year’s most popular games. Including Rep. Omar, Ocasio-Cortez was joined by established streamers Pokimane, Moistcr1tikal, and Jacksepticeye, among others.
A self-professed beginner to both Twitch and Among Us, Ocasio-Cortez told viewers she borrowed streaming equipment and had just a few practice games under her belt before going live at 9 p.m. EST. She streamed from home, sitting in front of a Green New Deal poster and a changeable letter sign directing viewers to visit iwillvote.com.
Despite the emphasis on voting, the broadcast was mostly free of politics, hardly different from a typical gaming stream. Ocasio-Cortez spent most of the time learning the game’s strategy, successful at times, less so at others. She had doubts whether she could succeed at the deception-oriented strategy game, telling viewers before her first match, “I’m so nervous, I’m not a very good liar.”
The youngest woman ever elected to Congress, Ocasio-Cortez, 31, was already known for her mastery of social media through Twitter and Instagram, a reputation solidified by the success of Wednesday’s stream. Concurrent viewership on Ocasio-Cortez’s channel exceeded 300,000 throughout the stream, even at its midnight conclusion. Michigan Reps. Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) and Justin Amash (MI-3) were a few notable viewers.
Among Us is a far cry from the formality associated with politics and politicians. At one point, Ocasio-Cortez lamented having to trek across the game’s map, saying, “I just want to get to this damn terminal.” Her willingness to employ coarse language, gasp, laugh, and display her personality with pride is a main reason why she’s become so successful on social media. She has the most Instagram followers (7.1 million) and second-most Twitter followers in Congress (9.1 million), trailing only Sen. Bernie Sanders (13.1 million). It’s safe to assume she has the most Twitch followers in Congress now too, as Wednesday’s stream earned her 511,000.
For young people especially, representatives that avoid filtering themselves and appear genuine seem easier to connect with. “This is what politicians should be doing. It makes them more human,” said Ben Johanski ’21, “It makes them seem normal.”
Concluding the stream, Ocasio-Cortez thanked viewers and urged them again to vote: “This was a total blast, and I hope I can do it again soon. In the meantime, let’s go vote, and let’s take back our democracy.” But the stream didn’t quite end there—it stayed active for a few additional seconds before Ocasio-Cortez, squinting at her computer screen, said to herself, “Now how do I turn this thing off?” It was another of those down-to-earth moments, so on-brand for Ocasio-Cortez, and an end to a night that showcased once more why she’s become one of the savviest, most influential voices in the nation.